Kim, from Starry Sky Ranch has written an excellent post about making room for school. Last year was our first year back to homeschooling after 6 years of public/Catholic school. It was wonderful to return to this method of education with my younger children and I'm happy to continue this journey, adding one more to the mix.
One of the concerns I've had for quite some time is the ability to be both a good Mom to my older children as well as my younger children. I'm still sorting this out, but one thing I've had to grapple with in particular is the constant driving that takes place with older children. We do not allow our children to get a license until they are 18. Lately, due to insurance costs and having 2 children living at home over this age - we can't even allow them to drive our vehicles. This has meant a great deal of driving for me. I remember before I got to this stage of parenting thinking how simple it would be "they should get their own cars" or "they will have to pay for their own insurance". Walking the walk is always different than talking the talk isn't it. I mean, weren't we all the best parents who knew everything BEFORE we had children. It is the same with teens and young adult children - we know a lot more of what we'll do, before we are actually there and the path just isn't as clear cut and no one's family situation is like another. It is hard to know based on other models.
One of the hardest parts about homeschooling this past year was the car pooling to and from school (no, the Catholic school our older boys attended did not have a bus system) as well as to and from work. In fact when I think back, the constant driving began around 2010 when my children began getting jobs, and we were participating in soccer, and youth group, theater etc. It crept up on me and I was like the frog in a pot of water that slowly begins to boil. I was trying to juggle what is best for the younger ones "do I leave them home with an older child so they are not constantly in the car" or "do I take them so they are with me" with what is best for the older ones (safely getting to work, school, activities). This bothered me, a lot...but, what to do? The older kids also needed a Mom and part of their needs entailed life outside the home. Also, my husband has traveled for the past 3 years - so, I was the main driver.
My husband and I decided to use the Art of Subtraction to enhance our daily life. (thank you for that link Kim, it beautifully illustrates just what we are feeling). It is hard for me and I feel guilty about hanging my hat as the driver. It is very hard to let them ride bikes to and from work (there are busy roads in their paths), and let them take public transit to College and now ride the bus to and from their public school (our Catholic school ends in 8th grade, I have 2 at the local high school). *deep sigh* but, they had a mother at home not constantly leaving and the younger kids need that same consistency - my sanity needs it as well. It is hard though, this subtracting, this letting go. It was easy to be smug about "what I'll do one day" when all my children were still very much in my nest. Some of them are flying now and I just can't fly with them - I still have some in the nest. It doesn't help when videos like 'bus bully' from your local school system came out last year. So the boys are riding their bikes to school unless weather calls for a bus ride.
I'm not sure what this year will look like and as hard as it is to let go of being their driver (and in bad weather I still will be). I think it is for the best. The funny thing, as much as I grappled with this - when we told the older boys, they accepted this as if it was meant to be and always should have been. I sure do appreciate their attitudes, it helped their Mama a lot. We are not done subtracting, there are other things we need to remove to make room for a wholesome learning environment as well as family life. I think we are finally on the right path though.